COLUMBUS — Jason Beiermann is pushing to make a longtime dream come true.
For years, he has been working toward relocating Columbus Event Center to make it more accessible for youths and provide more sports and entertainment options.
“It’s been a goal of mine to get something like this for the town. Something fun for kids and families,” he said.
Since buying Columbus Event Center from Gary and Colleen Marinello in 2006, Beiermann and his wife have been looking toward the future and the opportunity to move to a new location that provides a better facility with more space.
“We spent the first several years laying the groundwork,” Beiermann said of investing money in the business by buying equipment for the sports and other activities offered there.
The event center, previously known as Columbus Hockey & Skate Center Inc., operates from leased space inside the old Wishbones building at 3868 63rd Ave., along U.S. Highway 81. The condition of the building and a lack of space to expand are reasons why Beiermann wants to put the event center at another location.
He is in the process of securing funds to purchase land and cover construction costs, which he estimates will cost $1 million to $1.5 million in total. While he has designs drawn up, property hasn’t been bought.
It's likely this will be the last year Columbus Event Center is open at its current location. Beiermann is advertising that on the business’ website and Facebook page.
This is also probably the final effort Beiermann will make to establish a new event center.
“For our case, if we can’t get progress on the new location, we will call it a day. Our role would be wrapped up,” he said.
His vision expands the current activities lineup of roller-skating, indoor soccer, dodge ball, laser tag and arcade games. There would be two separate indoor arenas, one for skating and another with artificial turf for baseball, softball, football and other sports. He also wants to have a sports bar/restaurant and space for outdoor sports leagues and go-karts.
“Our goal is to add programming and not take it away,” Beiermann said.
Doug Kluth, director of the Columbus Area Sports and Activities Council, has been working with Beiermann for the past 16 months on the project. He's visited other communities with event centers, like the Sanford Fieldhouse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Kluth said the idea Beiermann has is unique because it would have offerings for children, adolescents and adults and the facility could be used year-round. League play could be a big draw for the community, bringing in people from outside Columbus and Nebraska.
Beiermann has looked at renovating existing buildings for an event center. In particular, he had his eye on the old Columbus Family YMCA building.
“That was really the only building that had the clear space. We explored it,” Beiermann said.
That building was bought and renovated by 1C Church.
Because of the sports he wants to offer, Beiermann said an existing building can't have poles spaced throughout the interior. That's why he said the often-mentioned vacant Wal-Mart building, which most recently housed Apogee, wouldn’t work.
“We are looking at putting up a new facility. That is the plan right now. We can always look at revisiting existing buildings, but if there are poles, we would have to drop offerings,” Beiermann said.
He has his sights set on a piece of land and is trying to shore up financing and identify investors to purchase it and start building.
Beiermann said the years-long effort to get a new event center has been challenging, but he thinks there is demand for the facility based on the current use.
“The frustrating thing is the location and condition of the building. People love what we do. They just don’t want to drive out to Wishbones or go into the building,” he said.
The effort to make the new facility a reality is ongoing.
“We really appreciate the support we’ve had. We have really big plans and we really hope we can pull it off," Beiermann said. "We will be terribly disappointed it if doesn’t happen."